How to Read the Bible with Someone

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In a previous post we looked at how to invite someone to read the bible one on one with you.  What do you do at your first meeting?  Before describing a typical meeting, I want to say a few words about setting up the meeting.  First of all, you can’t ask someone to read the bible with you every week for the rest of his or her life.  You must put a limit on it, at least in the beginning.  It is best to just set one meeting to start.  At the end of your time together, you can ask, “Would you like to get together and do this again?”  Find out the person’s availability and set a time for the next meeting(s).  You could meet once or twice a week or once every other week or whatever fits your schedules.  The point is, you don’t want to leave your first study without having set up the date, time, and place for the next time.  Ideally, you would also set a goal.  For example, David Helm suggests an eight week study on Mark:

  1. Mark 1.1-15
  2. Mark 2.1-12
  3. Mark 3.7-35
  4. Mark 8.22-38
  5. Mark 10.17-45
  6. Mark 14.53-15.15
  7. Mark 15.16-39
  8. Mark 15.42-16.8

Other options for reading with those who don’t have any Christian background include:

  • 5 Weeks in Proverbs (chapters 1, 10, 12, 20, 30)
  • 4 Weeks in Ruth (chapters 1-4)
  • 5 Weeks in The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.1-20; 5.21-48; 6.1-18; 6.19-34; 7.1-29)
  • 6 Weeks in Isaiah’s Kingdom Prophecies (2.1-4 & 11.1-9; 25; 35; 60; 61; 65.17-25)
  • 3 Weeks in the Psalms (23-24; 29-30; 139)

Of course, you may have your own ideas of what scriptures would fit best based on who your reading partner is.  Here is a simple plan for the meeting:

  1. Take turns reading the passage aloud
  2. Each of you take turns saying what stuck out to you
  3. Ask any questions that the text raises
  4. Discuss what the passage is calling you to do or change
  5. Pray to close, asking God to bless your efforts in studying his book

Keep in mind that the genius and joy of this method is how it enables interaction with the text and each other.  If you assume the role of teacher rather than co-explorer, this will significantly diminish the enjoyment of the other person.  David Helm puts it this way:

It is very important to employ the art of conversational dialogue on biblical texts.  Nothing will kill reading one-to-one faster than when one of the two partners monopolizes the time by pontificating on the text (or worse, something other than the text).  The remedy, of course, is to be as good a listener as you are a speaker.  Your reading partner will not be challenged or helped if you talk at them rather than with them.  You cannot coerce your reading partner into saying the right answers, especially if they have doubts.  It is normal to doubt.  You can be a better guide in the discussion if you listen to and acknowledge the doubt rather than brushing them aside or just jumping in with your own observations.*

Do you think you’re ready to try this with someone? Why not give it a shot?  Feel free to adjust this “method” as you need to based on your own unique situation and relationship.

Here’s one more piece of advice from Helm about the meeting:

Remember to never be so driven in making a particular point or accomplishing some specific result that you miss out on being enriched by the joy of friendship, support, and mutual encouragement.  Trust that God is at work.  (Of course, the opposite danger should also be mentioned–of spending so much time chatting and sharing about life in general that you leave very little time for actually reading the bible!)**

Now, get out there, find someone, and get reading the bible one-to-one!

*David Helm, One to One Bible Reading (Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2011), p. 28.

**Ibidem, p. 29.

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